COAD Community Relief Effort |  May 2020

Table of Contents

Financial Assistance

Nonprofit Organizational assistance

Business Recovery


Youth and Education

How CCF can help


Donor Update 


May 2020

In response to this unprecedented global disaster, our community has developed the (COAD Community Organizations Active in a Disaster) to address imminent needs. COAD has been organized into a series of task forces: Financial Assistance, Hunger, Youth and Education, Special Populations, Business Recovery and Communications. To be clear, as we all wake up to a new normal every day, these task forces are fluid in addressing the ebb and flow of the local needs in our community as they come to light.

Thanks to the many generous donors, businesses and volunteers who have stepped up to the plate to help during this time of need, the COAD and it’s task forces have been able to assist our community in a number of ways.

The COAD site is now helping to facilitate COVID-19 testing by having individuals answer a series of three questions. Once you are completed then the system determines if you are in need of a test and will direct you to schedule an appointment.

Below is a list of the task force updates:

Financial Assistance:

The need: less than 6% of filers have received unemployment assistance. Applicants in hospitality businesses make up 70% of the so far processed applications.  Nearly 83% of the requests received have been for rental/mortgage assistance, utilities and car payment assistance.

What’s been Done: Emergency relief fund has been created and administered through the Charlotte Community Foundation Hug Fund , Charlotte County Human Services and Seasons of Sharing. A $100,00 match has been secured thanks to Cheryl Berlon and the James & Marian Pennoyer Estate Fund through CCF.

$308,473.81 already deployed through COAD financial assistance.

The numbers:

    • 248 total household members have been assisted
    • Over 1,427 applications received

The ongoing need:

  • Average of 25-30 new applications per day
  • Over $550,000 projected new financial assistance to meet the demand


Nonprofit/Organizational assistance:

The need: With over 300+ registered Charlotte County nonprofits, there is a recognized area of need that ranges but all with a common need of unrestricted operational dollars.

What’s been Done: $170,000 in grant-making has been provided to local nonprofits through the Charlotte Community Foundation.

Donors are encouraged to continue to communicate with their nonprofits of choice with their ongoing specific mission needs.

Business Recovery:

The need:

According to the current unemployment data: Charlotte County has had 3,322 initial claims for unemployment benefits with a labor force of 71,865 (4.6%) however, this number will likely soar as the backlog of filed applications has been resolved.

Charlotte County has one of the least diversified economies in the State of Florida. Our dependence on the Accommodation and Food Service Industries will be adversely affected by COVID related closures.

Many business owners and service employees have lost valuable revenue and income that results from sales while seasonal residents are here.

Charlotte County ranked 48th among the top 50 at-risk areas for housing market damage from the virus.

What’s been Done:
The COAD Business Recovery Task Force is sharing resources to increase knowledge of and access to small business loans and relief. Charlotte County’s Industry Associations and Chambers of Commerce have done an outstanding job of highlighting and assisting businesses in changing their business models and accessing resources for help.

Resources for Businesses:

Charlotte County Economic Development Office (EDO):

The Charlotte County Economic Development Office website offers one of the most comprehensive Business Resources webpages for businesses that have been impacted by COVID- 19.

Making personal phone calls to area business to assist them with navigating the requirements and processes of available resources.

Conducting surveys of local businesses to collect data and assess needs.

Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce:

Offers a Business Information Membership (BIM) free of charge to provide inclusion, updates, information, and resources to all Charlotte County businesses.

Offered a virtual Lunch and Learn session on Navigating the Waters of the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) in partnership with the Florida Small Business Development Center at FGCU.

Promoting the US Chamber of Commerce “Save Small Business Initiative”

Charlotte County Tourism:

Created a phone app “Outside Inside” available for download through the App Store or Google Play to help customers locate restaurants open for take-out and delivery.

Launched a campaign #BestSideYourSide – offering limited edition retro t-shirts to show support for Charlotte County hospitality businesses. ALL profits from every shirt sold goes towards the

• COAD fund providing much needed financial support for tourism industry employees and businesses impacted by recent shutdowns.

Charlotte Desoto Building and Industry Association:

Advertising local open positions and employment opportunities for CDBIA Member Businesses.

Sharing vital resources and information through online learning with the Florida Home Builders Association and the National Association of Home Builders

Promoting Future Home Builders of America through a “Build a House Contest” with virtual voting.

Englewood Chamber of Commerce:

Creating: as a portal for customers of Englewood restaurants to identify who is offering takeout, curbside pickup, or delivery.

The Englewood Chamber has also created a site: as a collaboration with Englewood Community Services to provide relief information in an easy to access format.

Punta Gorda Chamber of Commerce:

Highlighting local business activities and services

Promoting nonprofit needs and available resources

Offering a “Virtual Punta Gorda Farmers Market”


Our Food Task force is made up of local restaurant owners, grocery store representatives, local churches, government, non-profits, restaurant distribution businesses, food bank and food pantry staff, and community volunteers.  The group is chaired by Joe Sabatino, president of the St. Vincent de Paul Diocese of Venice.

As unemployment surges and money gets tighter, the demand on food pantries has increased substantially.  Many small food pantries in Charlotte County are experiencing shortages in both donated foods and volunteers, many of whom are elderly and are urged to stay home. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can help many families in ourcommunity.  The application is available online and the total turnaround time to receive benefits is less than 10 days. With the SNAP program, individuals and families receive a card to use at grocery stores.  This allows for families to make their own choices about food for their households.

What has been done: The COAD taskforce on hunger holds weekly meetings to assess the current landscape for supplies, best practices, and logistics.  A sub-group has been created specifically for local restaurants to participate.  As need increases the task force will respond appropriately.

Through Harry Chapin Food Bank, over 2000 food kits have been distributed via drive- thru pantries held twice weekly. Each food kit contains 5 days’ worth of meals.  Food distributions happen every Monday at Harold Avenue Rec Center from 10-12 and every Thursday at Sacred Heart Church from 10-12.

Local food pantries reported serving over 1000 households in April

Charlotte County Public Schools have provided over 120,000 breakfasts and lunches at area schools

Boys & Girls Club are preparing hot meals 3 times a week to families in both Port Charlotte and  Englewood, so far they are served over 1500 meals.

Meals on Wheels of Charlotte County and Senior Friendship Centers are working with the taskforce and serving hundreds of senior citizens with home delivered meals.

Shelf stable meals have been provided to the homeless to avoid congregating

An updated list of food pantries is available on that gives location, hours and type of distribution.

As our community continues to navigate this crisis and prepare for recovery, seek out the resources that are available.  No one in our community should go hungry.  Food and food stamps are available to those in need.

Mosaic Co Foundation has donated $14,290 to Harry Chapin Food Bank for Charlotte County COVID-19 food relief.

Additionally, our Charlotte County Faith-Based Community has generously continue to care for families and committed to hosting local food drives on an ongoing basis during the crisis.  While this list continues to grow, those  Faith-Based Hosts are…

Deep Creek Community Church

First United Methodist Church of Punta Gorda Port Charlotte United Methodist Church

Rock Calvary Community Church First Baptist of Port Charlotte First Alliance Church

Murdock Baptist Church New Day Christian Church

Ongoing Need: Continue to support the local food drives.

Youth & Education:

The need:
Parents and caregivers have been asked to pick up the role of tutor, school support staff, recess playmate, and more – some families are doing this while working from home, or while dealing with the stress that come with being newly unemployed. Students are missing their friends and doing “school” in a new way. This creates stress to all our families, but it has exponential impacts for families who are struggling to meet their basic needs. Agencies who are still serving youth have been in need of school supplies to supplement e-learning and assist with tutoring, arts and craft supplies for engaging younger minds, and most pressing of all the needs has been food for those families served by local social service agencies. Until we can ensure that the basic needs of these families are met, education will not be their  top priority.

What’s been Done:
Charlotte County Public Schools have ensured access to technology to all families in the county, providing Chromebooks and purchasing “hot spots” for families without internet access. Breakfasts and lunches are distributed through the week, in addition to weekend food donated through the Backpack Kidz program. Supplies have been donated for the children of essential workers at the YMCA. Dinners are offered at two Boys & Girls Club locations three nights a week, in addition to food boxes from Harry Chapin, fresh organic vegetables from Worden Farm, resource and activity bags and many other items donated from the community. Port Charlotte United Methodist Church and Deep Creek Community Church have taken the lead on coordinating diapers, wipes, and fun items for families with younger children.

The numbers:

      • 560 hot spots have been given out with 440 more on order
      • An average of 98% of students have logged into their classes and completed schoolwork district wide
      • Over 64,000 student meals have been given out
      • 1,591 dinners have been provided
      • Over 30 packs/boxes of diapers have been distributed
      • Over 200 boxes of organic produce have been donated for food insecure high risk families

The ongoing need:

      • High risk families with limited income and/or transportation issues will continue to require assistance with food and other basic needs
      • Tutoring support for struggling students
      • Summer reading as well as book distributions will engage volunteers and donations
      • Encouragement for families who are experiencing toxic stress

How you can help:
These families need support and they need to have access to basic needs like food, diapers, and toiletries. Students need access to books they can read when not engaging in e-learning to ensure we don’t see learning loss over the summer.

How our own Charlotte County Community can help:

Donating to, 100% of the funds go into the Emergency Relief Fund and directly into our community. The Charlotte Community Foundation continues to match funds received thanks to Cheryl Berlon and the James and Marian Pennoyer Fund.
Of course financial assistance is critical and imperative to addressing our immediate and short term needs. But we also must be looking forward.  This will end, infections will decline, social distancing will eventually ease and we will start to see a return to our new normal.  While the medical crisis begins to abate, the human crisis will have a curve that extends much further into the future. As the State begins to re-open our economies and communities, the rebound will be slow and the demands on our non-profit service providers will grow exponentially.  The solution? You.  Volunteers.

Volunteers-what would nonprofits do without our dedicated volunteers?  During this period of social distancing when participating in your usual volunteer activities isn’t possible and we’re sure you are missing that as much as our organizations are, we encourage you to stay connected with the agencies/causes that you believe in either by phone, email and/or through websites to watch for volunteer opportunities  In the future we will need all hands on deck more than ever and eagerly await the time when we will see all of your caring, smiling faces ready to do whatever you can to assist in the good work of helping others.

Ashley Maher
Executive Director
Charlotte Community Foundation